Leigh Ryan Recognized By Prince George's County Historical Society

April 10, 2013

Congratulations to Leigh Ryan, who will receive the St. George's Day Award from the Prince George's County Historical Society on April 21, 2013.

Established in 1974, these awards are given annually to honor living individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the preservation of Prince George's County heritage. Leigh will be receiving the St. George's Day Award in recognition of her research on Chaplain Henry Vinton Plummer, who was born a slave at Three Sisters Plantation in Lanham and became the first African American chaplain in the U.S. Regular Army; her service on the Committee to Clear Chaplain Plummer, which successfully lobbied to change Plummer's discharge from the Army to honorable (his dishonorable discharge stemmed from a court martial following opposition to his temperance efforts); and her volunteer work at Riversdale House Museum.

Leigh's research interest in Chaplain Plummer and Riversdale is closely connected to her teaching at Maryland. After reading the "Mistress of Riversdale: The Plantation Letters of Rosalie Stier Calvert, 1795-1821," Leigh was inspired to create a course called "Literary Works by Women: Women on the Plantation" (ENGL 348P) using journals, letters, autobiographies, and slave narratives as primary texts. (Rosalie and George Calvert's son, Charles Benedict Calvert, is founder of the Maryland Agricultural College.) Students in the class read "Mistress" and tour Riversdale House Museum. In addition, the Rev. L. Jerome Fowler - a descendent of Adam Francis Plummer, a slave at Riversdale and father of Henry Vinton Plummer - comes to speak about the enslaved women in his family history.

Leigh also taught for several years an Honors course linking Riversdale, the University, and the Federal City. She has started a biography of Henry Vinton Plummer drawing on all the research she has done to clear his name. Congratulations Leigh!